The modern childhood is defined by one thing. When the boy or girl first went to Disneyland or Disneyworld. After that visit, life takes on a new shade of meaning. Memories get filed into one of two categories, before going to Disney and after. All right, the visit to the famed theme park might not be that monumental for all children, but it is certainly a big deal and a trip the kid will never forget.
Advertised as the “happiest place on Earth,” Disney’s theme parks certainly set a high standard, and they do make children happy every day. And I know a few adults who still make annual trips from New England to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida to treat themselves to a delightful time.
But a recent trip to Disneyland for one family became a trip to remember for a lifetime, and not just because they got to see Sleeping Beauty Castle or take a photo with Mickey Mouse or one of the beautiful Disney princesses. The trip marked a turning point in their family that the children will never forget, nor will their parents.
When Disneyland Park was first built in 1955, there was nothing like it in the world. It was a place for children to use their imaginations and dream big dreams just as Walt Disney would want children to do to this day.
One young boy loved Disney more than anything in his life. He loved the movies. He loved the characters. But he had never been to Disneyland Park. That was why his parents saved every penny they could to make this boy’s dream become a reality.
The only time the family could make the trip was not a good time for everyone. The boy’s father was not available. He was away on deployment in the United States Navy for five months. Dad was going to have to miss the trip of a lifetime, and the boy was sorely disappointed.
Nevertheless, mom tried to get her son excited. He would still get to live out his dream, meet all the characters, and ride all the rides – just not with his dad. Whenever he thought about the trip to Disneyland, he always imagined dad would be with them.
The boy was still sad dad couldn’t make it when they rolled up on the park and walked through the magnificent gates. But soon after, he started to have fun and enjoy the experience, although it would have been better if dad didn’t have to be away for his call of duty.
Thankfully, dad had a trick up his sleeve. He was able to get released from his work early so he could meet his family at Disneyland. Instead of revealing the information to the entire family, he worked with mom to make it a surprise. She struggled to keep the secret from her little boy, who kept weeping about dad’s inability to make the trip, even until the moment they rolled up on the gates.
When mom asked her son to stand for a photo, guess who came walking up to him wearing his Navy uniform? The boy turned around and shouted “Daddy!”
Dreams can come true, especially in Disneyland.
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